West Glacier, Whitefish and Bigfork, Montana

Saturday, Sept 13th. This is Pat and Harry’s last day with us before they head out on the road. Here are some photos of our campsites at the West Glacier KOA and our trip into West Glacier. We stayed at the KOA for two fabulous weeks from 9/2/14-9/16/14 and Pat and Harry were with us most of the time, on the site next to us. This is one of the nicest campgrounds we have stayed at, with paved pads next to large grassy areas, picnic tables and a large fire ring on gravel. They even serve breakfast in the summer months and have a BBQ in the evenings until mid September. Continue reading

Hidden Lake Glacier NP

Monday, Sept. 8th, Pat, Harry, Bob and I drove up to Logan Pass on the Going-to-the-Sun Road to hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook, 2.8 miles. The entire hike features panoramic views across alpine meadows and rugged peaks. From the west side of the Logan Pass Visitor Center we started the hike on asphalt and turns into a boardwalk through the alpine meadows known as the Hanging Garden with a carpet of wild flowers. Directly in front of us stood the impressive view of Clements Mountain, 8660ft, and hanging out on the slopes were several big horn sheep. In the opposite direction stood Mt Reynolds, 9125ft. Continue reading

Highline Trail, Glacier NP

Sunday, Sept. 7th, we got up early and left at 8 am with Harry to hike the Highline Trail. We drove to the Apgar Transit Center in Glacier NP and took the shuttle bus up to Logan Pass arriving around 9:30 am. The Highline Trail leaves from across the road at Logan Pass and follows the Continental Divide also known as the Garden Wall ridge for most of the way to Granite Park Chalet, 7.6 miles. We walked along the famous ledge of the granite cliff, hanging like a shelf on the Garden Wall only 4-6 feet wide and a drop of 100 feet or more down to the Going-to-the-Sun-Road way below. There are hand cables along this stretch of the trail incase you have a fear of heights. From here the Trail continues to hug the cliffs and slopes of the Garden Wall and with every turn there are spectacular panoramic views of the mountains, such as Mount Cannon, Mount Oberlin and Heavens Peak to the west. We rested in the beautiful glaciated-carved valley between Haystack Butte and the Garden Wall before beginning the climb up to Haystack Pass at 7,024 feet. What amazing scenery to sit and pause for awhile and enjoy the panoramic scenic beauty surrounding us. Bob saw a berry bush by the side of the trail and ate one of the berries thinking it was a Huckleberry, it tasted very bitter. Harry and I tried one as well, it was definitely bitter and unpalatable. I took a photo and showed it to the Park Ranger later, to find out that it is called Twinberry (Bracted Honeysuckle) and can be mildly toxic or poisonous to humans!  Beyond Haystack Pass the Trail continues a gradual climb along the Garden Wall reaching the highest point on the hike at 7,280 feet. Continue reading

Red Bus Tour to Many Glacier

Saturday, Sept 6th. A beautiful sunny day for a bus tour. We got up early to take the Red Bus Tour to Many Glacier, and we were picked up at the KOA at 8am. The Red Buses are a great way to see and learn more about Glacier National Park. The vintage 1930’s buses are part of the historic heritage of the Park. The roll-back tops are perfect for viewing the spectacular mountains and wild life, as we pop up like prairie dogs to take photos of all the magnificent sights. Since 1936, Glacier National Park’s fleet of 33 Red Buses, built by the White Motor Company of Cleveland, OH between 1936 and 1939, have been providing tourists unforgettable experiences touring through one of the most spectacular parks anywhere. Continue reading

Going To The Sun Road

Friday, Sept. 5th we decided to explore the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the highlight and a must see for any visitor to Glacier NP. This was our first time driving west to east through the Park, it is a beautiful sunny day so the views are spectacular. The road followed Lake McDonald and McDonald Creek for several miles, after leaving the dense forest we had our first view of the Road winding up the side of the mountain called the Garden Wall. Everywhere we looked there were views of towering mountains, and many places to pull off the side of the road to get photos. Continue reading

Avalanche Lake – Glacier NP

Tuesday, Sept. 2nd, we arrived at the West Glacier KOA, what a beautiful Park. We watched the Wildlife Presentation by Tom Ulrich, the photographer, and there were some wonderful wildlife photos. Pat and Harry Koehler our friends from Calgary arrived on Weds and we spent a great evening together.

Thursday, Sept. 4th, we took our first trip into Glacier National Park, established on May 11th, 1910, and we hiked the 4.6 mile Avalanche Lake Trail. driving along the Going-to-the-Sun road to the trailhead. We started on the Trail of the Cedars until we reached the beautiful Lower Avalanche Gorge and began up the Avalanche Lake Trail. We followed the Avalanche Creek and after about 2 miles we arrived at the Lake that sits at the base of 8694′ Bearhat Mt rising 4800′ above the lake, which is fed by waterfalls at the end of the lake. There is a spacious beach where we sat on a log and had a snack enjoying this breathtakingly beautiful scenery. Pat stayed at the log setting up to paint the spectacular sight before her, and Bob and Harry and I continued to walk 0.7 miles along the lake’s shoreline. The lake was like a mirror reflecting the clouds and mountains surrounding it. When we returned to Pat she had finished the painting of Avalanche Lake, what a great work of art. Continue reading

Missoula Montana

Monday, Sept 1st, Labor Day. We arrived in Missoula, MT, yesterday and decided to spend a day sightseeing the town. The Smokejumper Visitor Center was recommended as it is the last day that it is open to the public. It is home to the largest Smokejumper base in the country. There is a museum and gift shop to explore and the free tour we took provided a unique and interactive opportunity to learn about this very demanding and important occupation. We saw the loft room where they hang their parachutes to inspect them for tears and the ready room with long tables, where the Smokejumper learns the art of folding his parachute. We visited the locker room and went outside to see the aircraft they jump from, called the Sherpa. There were no Smokejumpers being dispatched to fight a fire today. Continue reading

Riding the Route of the Hiawatha

We continued driving east to St Regis, MT, where we stayed at the Campground St Regis for two nights so we could ride our bikes on the Hiawatha Rail-Trail Mountain Bike Trail. Today we left early and drove back to the Lookout Pass Ski Area located just off I-90 on the Idaho-Montana border to pick up our tickets for the trail and the shuttle bus ride back. The first 13 miles of the route were opened in May 1998, and enhanced in 2001 with the long dark St Paul Pass or “Taft” Tunnel which burrows for 1.7 miles under the state line. It has been called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country. The incredible history of the construction of this line, built from 1906 to 1911, it took thousands of workers at a record cost of $260 million and was followed by electrification of several stretches of the main line, forming the longest electrified mainline railroad in the world. Some of the wooden poles for the power lines were still along the trail. The Route of the Hiawatha Rail-Trail takes you through 9 cavernous tunnels, and over 7 high steel trestles, past waterfalls, ridge top vistas and numerous interpretive signs providing information about the rich mining and railroading history. The 17 mile route crosses the spectacular, rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana. We started at the East Portal Trailhead and headed out with our petzl headlamps on our helmets in order to see riding through the 1.7 mile long tunnel, luckily we had two lights because mine died as soon as we entered the tunnel. Continue reading